Wong Mei Ling in Singapore talks to
P. Jayaram in Delhi
WML: Why use fake money to take a hit at such a large economy as India?
PJ: There have been several seizures of forged Indian currency notes, mostly of the Rs. 500 denomination in recent years. Indian intelligence agencies blame Pakistan as the source for the fake money and allege that it's being used to back terrorist activities in India and to subvert the Indian economy.
According to this theory, Islamabad believes that this is the best way to hurt India as its alleged support to militancy in Jammu and Kashmir has yielded little tangible results, despite the loss of over 40,000 lives since militancy escalated in 1989.
WML: How can you tell the difference between genuine and fake money?
PJ: The forgery is done so well, it’s hard to tell which is the Real McCoy. To the untrained eye, the fake currency appears as good as the genuine note. These days, five hundred rupee notes are viewed with suspicion, whether you tender it in shops, banks or anywhere else. They are scrutinised very closely and yet even the banks get duped.
According to intelligence agencies, anti-national elements and crime syndicates open several accounts and use the ATMs to deposit the fake currencies. If they see that the amount has been credited to their account, they continue to deposit fake money. If the amount is not credited they know that their game is up and no longer operate that account.
WML: Are people in India concerned at all that they might be carrying fake money?
PJ: People are worried about accepting large amounts of cash. If there are large transactions, they tell the parties concerned to deposit the cash in their bank accounts or pay by Demand Draft.
WML: What precautions can they take then?
PJ: In the past, it was easy to detect fake currencies as they were printed by people with limited expertise, using crude facilities. But with the forgers attaining a high level of sophistication, it is increasingly difficult to detect fake notes.
The situation is scary, particularly after the recent detection of Rs 400 million from the State Bank of India chest at one of its branches in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. Not only the counterfeit notes were of high quality, but they also had the same serial numbers as the genuine notes kept at the bank.
Security agencies say this could have been possible only with the collusion of the bank staff with those printing and pumping in the fake currencies into the system.
Read the full story here on the Straits Times Digital site.